While we've already seen reports that Windows 8.1 may provide a Start button when it's supposedly released later this year, a new report suggests that it won't pull up the Start Menu as we've come to know and love over the last two decades. Instead, by clicking on the button, users will only be greeted by the tile-based, touch-friendly Windows 8 Start screen.
This would be unfortunate given that one of the complaints surrounding Windows 8 has been a lack of a Start button that pulls up the Start Menu. Last year after the platform went live, Microsoft defended its removal, saying that customers didn't really use the Menu, that they pinned shortcuts to the task bar instead. A lackluster reception of Windows 8 and the strong sales Stardock has seen with its Start8 app seemingly says otherwise.
According to reports, the Windows 8 Start button will reside at the bottom-left of the screen just as it has in previous versions. It will even feature the Windows 8 logo as seen on the Charms bar and on Windows 8-based keyboards. The problem is that the function to switch to the Start Screen already exists at the bottom-left corner – why do we need a button that does the same thing? Will this button make it easier to jump back and forth between Start screen and desktop?
Winsupersite reports that the addition of the Start button comes from the upper management which "overruled objections from the Windows team". He said that the Windows team, which is also objecting to the boot-to-desktop option, was given too much free reign after the success of Windows 7. But now that Windows 8 is seemingly blamed for the decline in PC sales and Steven Sinofsky is out of the picture, the upper management is taking more control and tuning in to customer feedback.
Meanwhile, evidence of a Windows 8.1 Preview has surfaced in another leaked build of the "Blue" OS upgrade. Reference to the "Preview" was found in the system files along with mention of Windows Server 2012 R2 and Windows RT 8.1. There's speculation that Microsoft will launch a public preview of the new Windows RT build for Surface customers and perhaps even those who purchased RT tablets from Microsoft partners.
There have certainly been a number of "leaks" taking place over the last several weeks, all slowly revealing new features and changes to the Windows 8 platform. Are they controlled leaks to generate some positive buzz around what many OEMs have called a disappointing platform, or is it really that easy to lose an OS? The number of recent leaks is both a bit troubling, and a little hard for Microsoft to deny.
We expect to learn more about what's going on in June during BUILD 2013, and could even see the launch of the Windows 8.1 Public Preview during the conference.